Monday, March 30, 2009

JREF youtube account suspended.

Dammit, youtube! You've pissed me off! You let VenomfangX fuck with Thunderf00t, you let the votebots fuck with everyone, you let flaggingbots screw shit up, and now you kicked Granddad in the nuts.

Let me explain a bit. James Randi is my skeptical Granddad. Phil Plait (currently blogging at Discover Magazine, and current prez of JREF) would be my skeptical pop. I didn't really know about Randi until I started reading the old Bad Astronomy, but I followed the links and learned about Randi and his epic destruction of Uri Geller, and I was sold. You should really click on that last link if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's epic!

So, now, for some reason that has yet to be revealed, youtube has suspended the JREF account. Based on the prior account suspensions that I have seen, I am thinking either a DMCA violation (not bloody likely, with the JREF's carefulness) or a nasty flagging campaign.

So, if my reader happens to be a fellow skeptic and fan of the Amazing Randi, watch this vid and mirror it and spread the word.

Don't fucking kick my skeptical Granddad!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

STS 119

The space shuttle has launched about 25 minutes ago, mission 119, for space station service. They will install the final array of solar collectors, and probably some other stuff. Maybe something sciency.

Anyway, we walked about 3 minutes from the Lab Boy lair to see the launch, so you get to see the pix. Here are the best 2:

From before the boosters separated: (click to embiggen)

And one of the beautiful sunsetty aftermath: (again, click to embiggen)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Anyone like looking at the sky at night?
This post is for you.
Don't have the money for a huge telescope?
This post is for you.
Want to excite your kids about the skies?
This post is for you.
Want to encourage learning about science and the universe in kids you've never met? This post is for you.

This year is the International Year of Astronomy, with the goal of encouraging everyone to simply look up and see a bit of the universe they live in. The universe we live in is a fantastically beautiful thing, but unless you have some significant disposable income, much of it as been effectively beyond your reach. You could get toys before that would give you a weird, rainbow-blurred image of the moon, but those days are over!

I introduce the Galileoscope.

Holy Titan, Batman! This little 'scope is designed to be easy for kids to assemble with some supervision, cheap, has minimized chromatic abberation, cheap, compatible with most eyepiece accessories, cheap, made to use any camera tripod, cheap, up to 50x magnification, cheap, has 2" of light gathering opening, cheap and can view up to 1.5 degrees of sky (about 2x the width of the Moon). Did I mention it's cheap?

This telescope is better than anything Galileo had, and will set you back a measly $15. No, I did not misplace the decimal point. $15.00. Even better: you can donate a Galileoscope to be sent out to kids for even less. $12.50 gets some school somewhere a telescope to view the heavens. How freaking cool is that?

Do you remember the first time you saw the moons of Jupiter? If you do, here's your chance to help a disadvantaged kid to see them and help instill the sense of wonder that will serve them the rest of their life. If you don't, then you've never seen them and this is your chance to see the moons of Jupiter and help instill the sense of wonder that will serve them, and you, the rest of their life.

I ordered 3. One for me and 2 for the kids. I'll be our in the driveway checking celestial stuff out if you want to come by.

I'll post a full review when the 'scope arrives.

Hat tip to Phil Plait

World, meet Ella. Ella, meet world.

OK, I know I've been rather uncommunicative lately. It's been a fairly ...ummm... busy month or two. Things are getting better. The loss of Diz was rough, as I am sure any pet lover would understand. But as much as we miss him, life goes on. Work is still interesting, as usual (to think they pay me to be a microbiologist... suckers), plus we have a new addition to the lab.

Not a grad student, nor an undergrad intern. Certainly not a post-doc (we don't have the funds). Anyway, let me introduce her. She's young; A graduate of the school of hard knocks, with Honors. She has been at work with me every day for the last 4 weeks and has shown that she has a great capacity for learning, though she is a bit tentative with new people.

Now let me introduce Ella, the new Lab Dog:

The house was just too quiet without a pup.

She's about 5 months old, and an Australian Shepherd mix, according to the shelter. She's a very smart little gal, and eager to please. During the day, she hangs out under my desk or in my chair if I'm in the lab, and has made friends with just about everyone in the office. When I have to be elsewhere, she has stayed with our lab manager, the previously mentioned Lab Goddess. I'm very lucky to be in an environment where dogs are a welcome part of office life, and I have the opportunity to train an office-friendly dog from the get-go.

Once the teething is done, we should be good...